In 2019, Judge Stephanie Gallagher, a magistrate judge in the District of Maryland, was confirmed to the federal bench. She was replaced as a magistrate judge by federal public defender Deborah Boardman. Boardman herself is now a nominee to join Gallagher on the Maryland District Court.
The 46-year-old Boardman was born in Silver Spring, Maryland and grew up in nearby Frederick. Boardman received a B.A. summa cum laude from Villanova University in 1996, and then spent a year in Amman, Jordan, on a Fulbright Scholarship. Boardman then obtained a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2000.
After graduation, Boardman clerked for Judge James Cacheris on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. She then joined the D.C. office of Hogan & Hartson as an associate. In 2008, Boardman left the firm to become a federal public defender in Maryland.
In 2019, when Gallagher was elevated to be a U.S. District Judge, Boardman was appointed to replace her as a U.S. Magistrate Judge, where she currently serves.
History of the Seat
Boardman has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. While the exact seat has not been specified, Boardman will likely fill the seat opened by Judge Richard Bennett’s move to senior status upon the confirmation of his successor.
Boardman began her legal career as a law clerk on the Eastern District of Virginia. From 2001 to 2008, she worked as an associate at Hogan & Hartson in Washington D.C. During her tenure there, Boardman worked on the legal team for Derek Tice, a former Navy officer who had been convicted of rape and murder in Norfolk. Boardman was able to convince Judge Everett Martin to overturn Tice’s conviction based on violations of his right against self-incrimination. However, Martin’s decision was overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court (in a decision written by future Fourth Circuit Judge Barbara Keenan).
From 2008 to 2019, Boardman worked as a Federal Public Defender in Maryland, where she represented indigent defendants in federal court. Among her notable matters there, Boardman represented Thomas Drake, an employee of the National Security Agency charged with mishandling classified information. The prosecution ended with the dropping of all charges in exchange for a plea on a single misdemeanor. Boardman also represented Anthony McIntosh, a Prince George’s County jail worker who was charged with failing to seek medical attention when coming across an inmate who was found “hanging from a sheet in his cell.”
Boardman has a couple of political donations under her belt. In 2007, Boardman gave $500 to the Presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, while in 2008, she gave $300 to Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign.
Boardman has served as a U.S. Magistrate judge in Maryland since her appointment in 2019. In this role, she handles settlement, discovery, and makes recommendations on dispositive motions. She also presides over cases where the parties consent.
Given her short tenure as a magistrate, Boardman has relatively few substantive decisions under her belt, generally involving issues of pretrial release and detention. For example, Boardman denied the government’s motion to hold Michael Davis, who was charged with drug and firearm related offenses, finding that Davis has no history of violence and there were conditions other than detention that could protect the community.
In another case, Boardman granted an inmate’s motion for pretrial release, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic materially changed the circumstances of his detention and that additional conditions could ensure the safety of the community.
With two decades of litigation experience, and a relatively uncontroversial background, Boardman should, barring the unexpected, see a relatively comfortable confirmation to the District of Maryland.
See Matt Reed, Judge Overturns Conviction in 1997 Norfolk Murder Case, A.P., Nov. 30, 2006.
 See Alex Dominguez, Motion to Drop Charges in NSA Leaks Case Denied, A.P., March 31, 2011.
 See Brian White, Man Pleads Guilty in Case Involving Inmate Death, A.P., Jan. 4, 2013.
United States v. Davis, 449 F. Supp. 3d 532 (D. Md. 2020).
 United States v. Shaheed, 455 F. Supp. 225 (D. Md. 2020).